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Recipe for Health: Planning is key to saving health, wealth

Becky Varner: The simplest way to plan meals is to include a food from each of the five food groups: protein, grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy.
BY BECKY VARNER Published: October 1, 2013
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Despite what you might've heard, it is possible to eat healthier and spend less money.

To accomplish this rare feat, you'll need to plan a menu, read labels and follow a few money-saving strategies.

The simplest way to plan meals is to include a food from each of the five food groups: protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy.

Protein

Look for lean and petite portions in store ads to see what is on sale this week. If you have room in the freezer, consider buying several packages if the price is really great, and freeze what will not be used right away. Check the price per pound of large quantities of meat as they will sometimes cost less per pound than smaller quantities. If the price is less, purchase the larger quantity and repackage into smaller packages and freeze for later use. Be sure and label the package with the cut of meat and the date of purchase.

Round steak is a lean meat commonly available at a lower price in large quantities. Round steak is best prepared using moist heat. A slow cooker is perfect. Lean pork chops, 93 to 96 percent lean ground beef, skinned chicken breasts, turkey breasts and a variety of fish are all examples of lean protein sources. Purchase those priced best.

Legumes, including dried beans, peas and lentils, are inexpensive alternative protein sources. Choosing legumes over meats several times a week can drastically reduce food costs. Beans can be served solo or added to a variety of dishes. Beans like black turtle, cannellini and great northern are served in stews, soups and casseroles. Cannellini beans are also served in salads. Garbanzo beans are especially good with couscous and for making hummus. Navy beans are famous in Boston baked beans. Pinto beans and rice are delicious served together in Mexican dishes. Kidney beans are especially good in chili. Yellow, green, orange and red lentils are served in soups and many curry dishes.

Vegetables and fruits

After planning the protein source, decide on vegetables and fruits to complement the meal. Take advantage of seasonal vegetables and fruits when purchasing fresh produce. These will often be at the best prices and at the best quality. Variety squashes, such as butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash, are great choices now. Sweet potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables are in season. And this is definitely the time to find pumpkins.

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Learn with Lunch

Becky Varner will teach Learn with Lunch featuring Sweet Potato Bisque, Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables, and Carrot Muffins with Raisins and Walnuts at noon Oct. 8 in the Buy For Less, 3501 Northwest Expressway, and noon Oct. 15 at the Buy For Less, 10011 SE 15, Midwest City.

She will teach Learn with Brunch featuring Sweet Potato Bisque, and Carrot Muffins with Raisins and Walnuts at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 16 at Uptown Grocery Co., 1230 W Covell, Edmond.

Reservations

Class size is limited. Call 302-6273, ext. 332, for reservations.

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